Lenexa advances controversial Watercrest South project again after developers move apartments

Watercrest South

Lenexa is advancing new plans for Watercrest South and Copper Creek Apartments, a sprawling project proposed along K-7 Highway in Lenexa. The latest version of the project proposal calls for pushing back some higher-density multi-family buildings away from a neighboring subdivision. Above, a design rendering of the Copper Creek Apartments, which have received opposition from the neighboring homeowners in Watercrest Landing.

New plans for Watercrest South and Copper Creek Apartments, a sprawling project proposed along K-7 Highway in Lenexa, will push back some higher-density multi-family buildings, moving them further away from a neighboring subdivision whose homeowners oppose the project.

After about three hours of discussion Monday night, the Lenexa Planning Commission advanced the controversial residential development proposal. It is the third time a version of developers’ applications have advanced through the commission.

Located on about 187 acres of farmland at the southwest corner of Monticello Road and 90th Street, the proposed Watercrest South and Copper Creek project consists of plans for a mix of multi-story apartments and townhomes, single-family homes, another multi-family apartment as well as a townhome subdivision, senior housing and commercial developments.

Shifting high density away from single-family homes

Dave Komar and a couple of other residents in Watercrest Landing spoke against the Copper Creek Apartments, saying the project has too high of a density to be next to single-family homes.

In the latest iteration of the plant, the developers — Q.C. Development, P and L Development LLC and Watercrest South LLC —  have moved planned multi-family units away from existing single-family homes in the nearby Watercrest Landing subdivision.

The new plan calls for shifting some of the highest-density apartment units to southern portions of the site, closer to Prairie Star Parkway. The remaining apartment units would still be located on the site between Watercrest Landing and K-7 Highway. Manor-style apartments — referred to as “Big Homes” in the developers’ plans — with 10 units each will serve as a buffer between the apartments and Watercrest Landing.

Several commissioners said they appreciated the efforts by the developers to address concerns of the neighboring homeowners.

“I understand the concern that the overall density went up,” said Commissioner John Handley, noting that a diverse array of housing stock allows for “a mixed community that gets along well. “I think these feel appropriate, the transitional density and zoning is something that I think will make it much less drastic and much less scary when it does finally go in.”

However, some residents and Commissioner Jason Leib said the density of the proposed apartments was still too high. Residents’ concerns centered around the high density of the Copper Creek portion of the development, which they said could cause traffic congestion and negatively impact property values.

“It’s going to be a jam there, and it’s not going to be the pretty, natural resources that Lenexa has out there anymore. It’s going to be chaos out there,” said Dave Komar, who lives in Watercrest Landing.

Leib voted against the Copper Creek Apartments proposal and related rezoning, citing his continued concerns about high density.

Components of the project

Here are the components of the project and how they differ from previous versions:

  • 192 single-family homes on about 94 acres of land — part of Watercrest Landing — on the southwest corner of Monticello Road and 90th Street (a decrease from 257 homes)
  • About 10 acres of commercial site, possibly for two four-story hotel buildings and a retail building, on the northeast corner of K-7 Highway and Prairie Star Parkway (no major change)
  • 230 apartment units in three-story buildings on about 14 acres near the southwest corner of 90th Street and Monticello Road (an increase from 100 units)
  • 206 apartment units for a senior housing project on about 5 acres near the southwest corner of 90th Street and Monticello Road (an increase from 150 units)
  • 143 townhome units on about 27 acres on the northwest corner of 95th and Monticello — the planning commission will review this specific item at its next meeting to address the rezoning request (an increase from 56 single-family lots, per the previous version)
  • 634 units in a mix of apartment buildings and “Big Home” manor-style buildings on about 34 acres just west of 89th and Woodsonia Drive (previously 688 apartments and 44 townhomes)

Below are some additional design renderings for the project:

Copper Creek Townhomes
Copper Creek Townhomes
Copper Creek “Big Home” manor-style buildings.
Copper Creek “Big Home” manor-style buildings.

A brief history

The planning commission first approved the proposal in August 2020. Neighboring homeowners and members of the Lenexa City Council later raised concerns and some opposition to the project due to the high density of the Copper Creek Apartments being located next to the existing single-family homes in Watercrest Landing.

After the city council remanded the project to the planning commission, and the planning commission again approved the project, the city council in October deferred consideration of the applications to December.

Shortly afterward, the developers withdrew their application and resubmitted new plans.

The project still hinges on the developers’ completion of Woodsonia Drive from 83rd to Prairie Star Parkway.

Next steps

The Lenexa City Council will consider almost all legs of the project March 16.

One application — a concept plan and related rezoning for townhomes totaling 143 units on the northwest corner of 95th and Monticello — stayed behind for further review and discussions by the developers and the planning commission. At issue was the proper level of density — medium or high density — that should be allowed for the site.

Commissioner Ben Harber was absent.